By Ben Greenberger
Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said last week that he had never been to Knoxville, Tennessee. After Saturday’s bout with the Volunteers, he’s not going to be in any hurry to go back.
Tennessee dominated yesterday’s game from beginning to end, eventually defeating Missouri by a final score of 35-12.
Shawn Robinson got the start at quarterback for Mizzou, and he struggled for the second straight week. After two drives, totalling one completion for 0 yards, 3 rushes for -4 yards, and 0 first downs, Robinson was lifted for backup Connor Bazelak. Bazelak gave the Tigers offense some life, leading them past midfield twice in the second quarter and both times resulting in field goals. The defense was not able to hold Tennessee to field goals, however, and gave up 3 first-half touchdowns. A Jarrett Guarantano quarterback sneak from 1 yard out went with a pair of Eric Gray scores (one rushing, one receiving), and the Tigers found themselves trailing 21-6 going into the break.
After a first-drive punt by the Tiger offense to start the second half, Tennessee marched 92 yards down the field and used another Guarantano quarterback sneak to really turn the game into a blowout.
Missouri responded well after that long drive by the Volunteers, putting together their one and only touchdown of the game. 10 plays, 75 yards, and two fourth down conversions resulted in a 1-yard score from Larry Rountree. Bazelak did a great job changing the play at the line, showing leadership and poise. It looked like Tennessee’s defense was committing to the quarterback sneak, which Bazelak recognized and adjusted to. He decided instead to go with a toss to the outside, which allowed Rountree to walk in untouched. The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, and the Tigers were done scoring for the day.
The Vol’s added one more touchdown in the fourth quarter, then were able to run out the clock and seal their victory.
The bright spots were certainly few and far between for Missouri yesterday, but one of them was certainly Conner Bazelak. He finished his day 13-21 passing for 218 yards and one interception. Those numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page but, when compared to Shawn Robinson, it is clear Bazelak had a much better handle on this offense.
Tennessee ended up rushing for 232 yards on the game, getting 105 on 16 carries from Eric Gray, and 90 on 19 carries from Ty Chandler. Jarrett Guarantano only carried the ball for 14 yards, but his quarterback sneaks led to 2 rushing scores.
Eli Drinkwitz moves to 0-2 as the head coach of the Missouri Tigers, losing by 19 and 23 points respectively. Unfortunately the blowouts may not be over yet, as next week Missouri has a date down in Baton Rouge with the defending National Champion LSU Tigers. Just like Missouri’s first two opponents, LSU will be ranked.
That game will be under the lights, and you can catch it right here on kcou.fm at 8pm central time.
Edited by Emma Moloney